01.19.15 I was over on the east side of our state for four days, where there is lots of sunshine. And, three of my grandchildren! My daughter and i met for a night in Pray, MT, at Chico Hot Springs–that wonderful historic hotel and healing waters, where we gather together as many times as we can each year. In the cold dead of winter, there is nothing better than soaking in the hottest pool, steam rising above us into the stars. We met family friends there for a birthday celebration and closed the restaurant down in revelry and wine. Winter healing.
Billings was as ice-bound and clogged by snowdrifts as we are here on the western side. More so, actually, because despite being the biggest city in the state, the city leaders have never seen a reason to budget money for street plowing. “What’s the point…it’ll just snow again and if you live in Montana, this is what happens in winter.” There are cars buried everywhere from the last storm a week or so ago. “What’s the point…I’m not going anywhere.” But, walking Anna home from school in my IceBug hiking boots, I loved the bright warm sunshine on my back and they actually have singing birds in the middle of January. Each day, at the kitchen table, we watched the ice sickle from the roof growing longer and longer, nearly touching the snowy ground by the time I left.
I had clear roads on the seven hour drive home across the state. It was one of those times when you like to imagine you are seeing Montana for the very first time, blown away by its magnificent scenery. Before Bozeman, and the exit for Yellowstone National Park, and the Paradise Valley, you watch the Crazy Mountains rise up from the snowy plains which are spiked with golden wheat stalks. The sharp peaks are shimmering with white snow, crisp and craggy against the clear blue sky. My daughter can never resist taking a photo out the front windshield during her business trips over to Bozeman. Unlike the Rocky Mountain front range, the Crazies are an isolated island range out on the prairie; almost a mirage you see way out in the distance as you barrel down the interstate. The highway parallels the Yellowstone River along here, and it’s always exciting to see the ice floes and jams, and the occasional fox or coyote.
The sunshine penetrated my black wool sweater and I could practically turn the heat off in the car. Yet, out here on the prairie, this is winter light–low, soft and golden; a Russell Chatham painting. I was reminded of how long we have yet to go in this season which we have been calling in our household, “The Winter of our Discontent.” But, a little warm sunshine, hot springs, time with family and friends, and clear dry roads, gave me a much-needed winter view.